NBA AM: Billups Retires, Hall Of Fame Next?

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Hall of Fame Debate: Is Chauncey Billups worthy?

League veteran Chauncey Billups, known for hitting big shots in pivotal moments and being a class act on and off the floor, has decided to retire from the game of basketball.

“It’s just time. I know when it’s time,” Billups said, according to Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports. “My mind and my desire is still strong. I just can’t ignore the fact that I haven’t been healthy for three years. I can try again and get to a point where I think I can go, but I just can’t sustain. Me not being able to play the way that I can play, that’s when you kind of know it’s that time.

“It’s just time. I’m happy, excited. The game was very, very good to me. I felt like I was equally as good to the game the way I played it and the way I respected it and the way I carried myself through the process.”

Billups played 17 seasons in the league with stints in Boston, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minnesota, New York and Toronto. The guard has somewhat hobbled down the stretch of his career, missing nearly 200 games over the past three seasons. Yet, Billups maintains his body is finally back in great condition for the next chapter.

“I’m finally 100 percent healthy,” Billups said. “I feel great. But the thing is I always told myself that when I retire, one, I want to feel good. I don’t want to be walking around limping. I don’t want to just go out and play with my guys. I want to feel fantastic.

“I didn’t want to go back out with the risk of hurting myself after putting in so much work to feel good. Also, my kids are getting older. I got a junior in high school, a freshman in high school and my baby is 8. And you just can’t get those years back.”

The next question that often appears after a generational great hangs up the laces is whether their career is worthy of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame. Billups was named NBA Finals MVP in 2004 with the Detroit Pistons and history has generally been kind to winners of this award as it relates to eventually being honored in the Hall of Fame.

“The Hall of Fame would be a big dream,” Billups said. “It marks you down as one of the greatest players ever. It’s not what I shot for, but that would absolutely be a dream. I know in my heart I had a Hall-of-Fame worthy career. If you look at most Hall of Famers, I don’t know how many of them started off the way I started off and made it to the top.

“I don’t know what will happen. I do feel I had a Hall-of-Fame career. But there have been a lot of Hall-of-Fame careers other than me.”

Since 1989, NBA Finals MVP winners were Joe Dumars, Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, Hakeem Olajuwon, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal, Billups, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker, Paul Pierce, Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard.

Dumars, Thomas, Jordan and Olajuwon are already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Duncan, O’Neal, Wade, Parker, Pierce, Bryant, Nowitzki and James are virtually locks. Billups has a strong case and Leonard is just beginning his career journey.

Billups retires with career averages of 15.2 points, 5.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game. He was named to five All-Star teams, selected to the All-Defensive team twice and All-NBA on three separate occasions.

Serge Ibaka talks Kevin Durant’s looming free agency

The Oklahoma City Thunder have one of the most talented teams in the league today. But after reaching the NBA Finals in 2012, the franchise has been unable to match that level of success the past two seasons. Most of the Thunder’s inability to return to the Finals can be attributed to All-Star guard Russell Westbrook’s knee injury in 2013 and forward Serge Ibaka’s knee injury in the playoffs this past season, which forced him out of the lineup at a pivotal moment.

If the Thunder continue to stumble in the playoffs, there’s rising concern reigning MVP Kevin Durant may start looking for another situation. Durant will be an unrestricted free agent during the summer of 2016 and it’s no secret teams will be gearing up to make a run at the superstar.   One franchise in particular is seemingly the Washington Wizards, which would offer the opportunity for Durant to return to his hometown roots.

Ibaka understands the long-term future of Oklahoma City’s franchise will ultimately rest heavily on the decision Durant makes in 22 months. For now, Ibaka says he has given Durant the space needed to make his own choice.

“He’s a grown man,” Ibaka told Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports. “He runs his life. But one thing I know about Kevin. He likes to win. No matter what. That’s the one thing I know: He likes to win. That’s for sure.

“Of course, I think it’s too early to talk about Kevin staying or going. It’s going to distract people. It’s going to distract the team. He’s got two more years. Let’s [talk] when the time comes, and we are going to see. It’s too early. We have to work to do. We have things to do as a team.”

Ibaka is currently playing for Spain during the 2014 FIBA World Cup. Spain, along with the United States, are the overwhelming favorites to take home the gold at the event.